MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBMA) — The Alabama State Board of Education voted 6-2 on Thursday to permanently adopt a resolution meant to ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.
The vote, which reaffirmed a resolution passed by the board this summer, was made along racial and party lines. The resolution broadly states no public school staff member is permitted to, "Teach any student, to believe that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race of sex."
READ: State board of education discusses critical race theory
Critics of the rule say it as meant as an effort to prevent the teaching of critical race theory.
CRT, as it sometimes referred, is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Scholars developed it during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation's institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society.
The architects of the theory argue that the United States was founded on the theft of land and labor and that federal law has preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race. Proponents also believe race is culturally invented, not biological. The theory has received renewed attention in the last year, particularly from conservative politicians, who argue it is being taught in K-12 classrooms.
ABC 33/40 News has not identified a single, credible report of an Alabama K-12 public school attempting to teach critical race theory.
READ: So much buzz, but what is critical race theory?
Nearly a dozen speakers attended Thursday's meeting to voice their opposition to the rule. Many worried the rule would have a chilling impact on discussions of race in the classroom.
"The resolution teaching that one race is superior to another race lacks merit and to write similar language into Alabama code further highlights the misunderstanding by members of the Alabama Board of Education on the importance of teaching fact-based history no matter how ugly it is.," said Benard Simelton, President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, "We cannot ignore the hideous past of Alabama and this nation."
Former teacher and community advocate Phillip Ensler, who is Jewish, compared teaching civil rights to his education about the holocaust.
"In the way knowing my history empowers me, it will empower them and perhaps that is what some of you are most afraid of. Yet Governor, respectfully you and others are using our children as political pawns to earn cheap political points as you run for re-election."
Governor Kay Ivey, who serves as President of the Alabama State Board of Education, did not directly address the pointed criticism from the speakers. Many began speaking out after the vote was cast.
"You are out of order, please be seated," Ivey said to one man in the audience.
Wayne Reynolds, Representative - District 8, was the only one of the six members who publicly explained his decision to vote in favor of the rule. Reynolds said his decision was grounded in his heritage as an indigenous American.
"My skin color may not be what you perceive an indigenous American to be but that's what I am. And my explanation, my desire is that we teach equity among all of us."
The actual impact of the broadly worded resolution is difficult to immediately determine. No teacher to date has been reported or punished for attempting to teach critical race theory.
The Associated Press contributed to this story